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What teams look to have cap space in 2010?

This is, of course, a very preliminary guess as to which teams will have significant cap space next summer (ie, more than the expected MLE amount) to be able to make either free agent acquisitions or for use in making lopsided trades. And let me be clear that all we can do today is guess – we don’t know what next year’s salary cap will be, trades and signings that take place over the next 10 months will obviously affect team salary situations, etc. So for purposes of this evaluation, I am forced to assume that no major roster changes will take place. Yes, I know that in the real NBA, they will – and when they do, this prediction will, of course, be changed. But until then…..

Oh, and for purposes of this ‘prediction’, I’m assuming a cap figure of $53.5 million. That assumes that BRI will drop significantly in the coming year and that predicted BRI for the 2010-11 season drops as well. Over the last several months, not only have individuals predicted that this will occur, the NBA distributed a memo to its teams warning them of an expected drop in BRI which would directly affect the 2010-11 salary cap figure. I am using the top end of the prediction from this memo for this prognostication.

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So here are my best guesses as to which teams will have significant cap space next summer, baring any major player transactions that would, of course, adjust these predictions. I’ve tried to make the best assumptions possible about team options, player options, guaranteed contracts and ETOs, but as I’m not an expert on every team in the NBA and what they are likely to do, I reserve the right to adjust these guesses over time as I receive your inevitable feedback (which is absolutely welcome!) on which of these are likely and unlikely to actually count in next season’s figures:

CHICAGO currently has 4 players under contract for 2010-11 in Deng, Hinrich, Johnson and Gibson. I’m assuming that the team options for Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah will also be picked up. John Salmons has an ETO and there will be a cap hold for their 1st round draft pick (I’m assuming they’ll pick #19). If the Bulls do not give Tyrus Thomas a qualifying offer and renounce his Bird rights, the Bulls could have $12.76 million in cap room if Salmons does not exercise his ETO and $18.10 million if he does opt out and is renounced. [This figure includes calculations for 4 cap holds - 5 if Salmons opts out -of $473,604 for having fewer than 12 players on the roster]

HOUSTON currently has 5 players under contract for 2010-11 in Battier, Ariza, Andersen, Budinger and Taylor. I’m assuming that the team options for Carl Landry, Chuck Hayes and Aaron Brooks will be picked up and that Yao Ming does not exercise his ETO. I also assume that Joey Dorsey is not cut before July 1st (which guarantees his 2010-11 salary) and that their own 1st round pick in 2010 is #12, which adds a cap hold of $1.68 million. If no qualifying offer is made to Kyle Lowry, Houston could have $7.55 million in cap room. [This figure includes a calculation for 1 cap hold of $473,604 for having fewer than 12 players on the roster]

LA CLIPPERS
currently have Baron Davis, Chris Kaman and Blake Griffin under contract for 2010-11. I’m assuming that they pick up the team options for Eric Gordon and Al Thornton, and that Sebastian Telfair picks up his player option. Assuming that they don’t get Minnesota’s 1st round pick and that their own 1st round pick is #16, that adds a cap hold of $1.37 million. I’m also assuming that DeAndre Jordan is retained and that his full contract counts against the cap. After accounting for 4 cap holds of $473,604 for having fewer than 12 players on the roster, the Clippers look to have $11.19 million in cap room if they do not make a qualifying offer to Mardy Collins.

MIAMI currently has no players fully guaranteed for 2010-11, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t have any players on their roster on July 1st. I’m assuming that the Heat pick up the team options on Michael Beasley, Daequan Cook and Mario Chalmers and that Joel Anthony picks up his player option. Also, I’m assuming that their 1st round draft pick is #18 and that they don’t get Toronto’s 1st round pick ,which adds a single cap hold of $1.24 million. Finally, I’m assuming that they don’t retain James Jones, so that only the guaranteed amount of his contract ($1.86 million) counts, which means that there will be 6 cap holds of $473,604 applied for having fewer than 12 players on the roster. In the end, Miami looks to have $21.54 million in cap room if Dwyane Wade picks up his player option. If Wade does not pick up his player option, his free agent cap hold will leave the Heat with $22.12 million in cap room.

MINNESOTA currently has Jefferson, Sessions, Flynn, Hollins and Ellington guaranteed for 2010-11. I’m assuming that they pick up the team options for Love, Brewer and Pecherov. As for 1st round draft picks, the assumption is that their own pick will be #3 and that they will also have #21 from Utah, but not get Charlotte’s 1st round pick – these two carry cap holds totalling $4.53 million. Rubio’s cap hold will also be in play at $2.81 million. Finally, I’m assuming that they release Ryan Gomes so that only the $1.0 million guaranteed counts against their cap in July – which also means a single cap hold for $473,604 for having fewer than 12 players on the roster. All this would leave the Timberwolves with $11.39 million in cap room.

NEW JERSEY currently has just Devin Harris and Terrence Williams guaranteed for 2010-11. However, I assume that the team will pick up the team options on Jianlian, Lopez, Lee, Douglas-Roberts and Sean Williams. In terms of 1st round draft picks, I’m assuming that their own pick will be #5 and that they also get the #23 pick from Dallas, which means cap holds for $3.81 million. I’m also assuming that they do not release Najera and that his full salary counts against the cap, but that they do release Dooling so that only $500,000 of his salaries is applied against the cap. Finally, I’m assuming that Josh Boone does not get a qualifying offer, which means that there will be 2 cap holds of $473,604 for having fewer than 12 players on the roster. This would leave the Nets with $22.87 million in cap room.

NEW YORK currently has just Hill and Douglas guaranteed for 2010-11, although my assumption is that Curry picks up his player option and Jeffries does not exercise his ETO. I also assume that the Knicks pick up the team options on both Gallinari and Chandler. After accounting for 6 cap holds of $473,604 for having fewer than 12 players on the roster, the Knicks would be left with $23.32 million in cap room.

OKLAHOMA CITY currently has Collison, Krstic, Harden, Mullens and Ibaka under contract for 2010-11. I’m making the assumption that the team picks up the team options on Durant, Westbrook, Green and White. As for 1st round draft picks, I’m assuming that their own pick is #10 and that they get #14 from Phoenix, which makes for cap holds for $3.38 million. Finally, I’m assuming that Sefolosha does not get a qualifying offer and that the team keeps Weaver, guaranteeing his $0.94 million. This would leave the Thunder with $14.54 million in cap room.

SACRAMENTO currently has Martin, Nocioni, Udrih, Garcia, Evans and Casspi under contract for 2010-11, however the assumption is that they also pick up the team options on Hawes, Thompson and Greene. I’m also assuming that they end up with the overall #1 pick in the draft which adds a cap hold of $4.29 million. Finally, I’m assuming that no qualifying offer is given to Rodriguez, meaning that there will be 2 cap holds of $473,604 for having fewer than 12 players on the roster. This would leave the Kings with $7.62 million in cap room.

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Here, quickly, are the teams that look to be above the cap next summer, baring any major roster moves between now and then:

ATLANTA – Even before re-signing Joe Johnson, the Hawks have Smith, Crawford, Williams, Bibby, Pachulia and Horford under contract (among others). I’m also assuming they make another Qualifying Offer to Josh Childress. All of this should keep Atlanta well above the cap next summer.

BOSTON – I guess Paul Pierce could use his ETO and give up more than $21 million. But I don’t think there’s any way he will. You add Garnett, Wallace and Perkins and those four players take the Celtics pretty much to the amount of the salary cap by themselves – meaning that even if they don’t re-sign Ray Allen, Boston is going to be above the cap.

CHARLOTTE – If somehow Michael Jordan’s dreams come true and Chandler, Radmanovic and Mohammed all exercise their ETOs, the Bobcats will be below the cap. Now let’s get back to reality – all those guys will take the guaranteed money and Charlotte will have no cap room next summer.

CLEVELAND – OK, if LeBron James leaves, the Cavaliers will have major cap room. But since this piece assumes that he won’t (see paragraph #1), even if he doens’t pick up his option, his cap hold will be nearly as much as what his current salary for 2010-11 is set at. That puts Cleveland either above the cap or perhaps – if the team takes some savings out of Delonte West’s partial guarantee – a couple of million below the cap. Either way, they won’t have significant (ie, greater than the MLE amount) cap room.

DALLAS – Sure, there’s a chance that the Mavericks could have cap space. But unless Dirk Nowitzki turns down $21 million and leaves town, Erick Dampier does not meet the performance incentives necessary to make his 2010-11 amount guaranteed and Mark Cuban decides not to pick up the team option on Josh Howard, they will be. My money’s on “they’ll be above the cap”

DENVER – Anthony, Billups, Nene, Smith Anderson, Lawson – just those 6 players bring the Nuggets to the predicted cap amount, even before accounting for players like Martin (ETO), Afflalo (TO) and Balkman (QO?). No cap space for Denver.

DETROIT – Their opportunity for having cap space was this past summer, and they took that opportunity and spent all the cap room that they had avialable. Now they will have Hamilton, Prince, Gordon, Villaneuva, Maxiell, Wilcox, Stuckey and Daye on their roster in 2010-11, meaning that the Pistons will not have cap room.

GOLDEN STATE – With Ellis, Biedrins, Maggette, Jackson, Turiaf and Curry the Warriors have committed themselves to $45 million in salary. Assuming they pick up the team options on Wright. Law and Randolph, the Warriors don’t look to be paying any luxury tax in the Spring of 2011, but they don’t look to have any cap room next summer.

INDIANA – They’ll be paying out $58 million to Murphy, Granger, Dunleavy, Ford, Foster, the two Joneses and to ex-Pacer Tinsley. They’ll probably also be paying out another $3.7 million to Rush and Hibbert. That puts them will above the expected cap.

LA LAKERS - Even if Kobe Bryant opted out and left the Lakers high and dry (not that I expect that to happen), the combined salaries of Gasol, Odom, Bynum, Artest, Vujacic and Walton alone would keep the Lakers above the cap. I think it’s safe to say that the Lakers will not have cap space next summer.

MEMPHIS – There’s a general feeling that Memphis will once again have cap room to spend next summer. The numbers don’t back this up. Randolph, Jaric, Thabeet, Gasol, Haddadi, Carroll and Young represent over $36.5 million in committed salary. The Grizzlies will almost certainly pick up the team options on Mayo, Conley and Arthur, which adds another $10.5 million. Memphis will have their own 1st round draft pick along with the 1st round picks from Denver and the Lakers, which should add another $5 million in cap holds. That’s $52 million in team salary even before accounting for Rudy Gay and his free agent status. No, unless they make some drastic salary cuts during the next 9 months, the Grizzlies do not look to have cap room next summer.

MILWAUKEE – After paying Redd, Bogut, Gadzuric, Bell, Delfino, Alexander, Jennings, Ilyasova, Ukic and Meeks their $53.5 million, the Bucks won’t have any cap space. Sure, Redd could exercise his ETO, but his free agent cap hold would still be large enough to keep the Bucks near enough to the cap that they wouldn’t have any room.

NEW ORLEANS – Count me surprised that after trying to trade Tyson Chandler in a salary dump earlier in the year, the Hornets spent the summer committing themselves to long-term salaries for players like Okafor and Songaila. Their concern in 2010-11 will not be trying to get under the cap but trying to get under the tax threshold, as Paul, Stojakovic, Okafor, West, Posey, Peterson, Songaila, Wright and Collison by themselves represent well over $70 million in salary.

ORLANDO – Another team that committed themselves to long-term salary this past summer, Orlando will also have as their main financial concern not trying to get under the cap but trying to get under the tax threshold. Lewis, Carter and Howard by themselves put the Magic over the cap – and they also have to pay Nelson, Gortat, Pietrus, Bass, Barnes, Anderson and the rest of their roster.

PHILADELPHIA – It should come as no surprise that the Sixers, who have committed themselves to paying the trio of Brand, Iguodala and Delembert a combined $41 million in 2010-11 do not figure to have cap space. Not when they also have to pay Kopono, Green, Williams, Young, Speights, Holiday and Smith – among others.

PHOENIX – Nash, Richardson and Barbosa will count as a combined figure of nearly $32 million. Gragic and Clark will make nearly $4 million. There are team options for Lopez, Dudley and Tucker representing another $6 million. Hill and Frye hold player options for another $5.4 million. And all of this doesn’t even account for Stoudemire – who could exercise his ETO, yes, but whose free agent cap hold would still keep the team above the cap. Even if he left outright, the team still might not have greater-than-MLE-level caproom. That’s why they’re in this list and not the one above.

PORTLAND – Roy has his maximum extension that starts in 2010-11. Aldridge will either have his own extension or will have a huge free agent cap hold. Oden, Webster, Bayless, Fernandez, Batum, Cunningham and Pendergraph represent more than $24.5 million in salary. Add in more than $3.5 million in cap holds for their upcoming 1st round draft pick and former 1st round picks Claver, Freeland and Koponen and the Blazers look to be just about right at the cap figure next July – even if free agents Blake and Outlaw are allowed to walk away. Plus, if Joel Przybilla decides not to exercise his ETO, that will guarantee that Portland is well above the cap (and even if he does, he'll still have a large free agent cap hold).

SAN ANTONIO – the Spurs, not surprisingly, are more concerned with trying to win another championship while they still have the services of Tim Duncan than they are about trying to get under the cap next summer. Duncan and Parker will make more than $32 million combined in 2010-11, Jefferson will count either as his $15 million salary or will have a huge cap hold as a free agent if he utilizes his ETO, Ginobli will have a cap hold of his own that should be well over $15 million – then add in the rest of the roster. Yeah, big surprise that the Spurs won’t be under the cap next summer.

TORONTO - the Raptors are another team that added a lot of long-term salary this past summer that will guarantee them to be well above the cap next summer. Turkoglu, Calderon, Bargnani, Jack, Evans, Banks and DeRozen themselves represent nearly $44 million in salary. Bellinelli and Weems represent another possible $3 million. Then add in either Bosh’s $17 million salary or a huge cap hold if he chooses not to pick up his player option. And even if Bosh leaves, the amount of cap room that the Raptors will hold might not be of the larger-than-MLE variety.

UTAH – Kirilenko, Williams, Millsap, Okur, Miles, Maynor and Price themselves represent more than $56 million in committed salary. Safe to say that even if Boozer walks as a free agent, the Jazz will be above the cap next summer.

WASHINGTON – The Wizards already have more than $45 million committed to Arenas, Jamison, Butler and Blatche. Stevenson has a player option for more than $4 million. There are team options for Young, McGee and Crittendon that represent another $6.5 million. Plus the team has to deal with free agents Miller, Foye and Haywood (among others). In short, I do not expect the Wizards to have any cap room next summer – and if they do, it won’t be more than MLE-level.

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Whew! OK, your turn now to tell me if I've got anything wrong so that I can update these predictions!


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